January 25, 2012 Ti West's well-reviewed horror film "The Innkeepers" hits theaters on February 3. A great indie horror film, which is sort of "Clerks" meets a low-key "The Shining," it solidifies West's position as one of the best directors working in the genre today. We were lucky enough to interview the filmmaker whose next work is a sci-fi film.
What inspired you to write and direct 'The Innkeepers'? You apparently stayed at the inn during the filming of "House of the Devil." Did the hotel inspire the screenplay? Yes, when we stayed at the hotel during "The House of the Devil" the whole cast and crew started to believe the place was haunted. A lot of weird stuff was happening and I just sorta logged it in my brain. When I decided I wanted to make a ghost story I thought, why not just make the one we lived?
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is obviously a real place where people can still rent rooms: http://www.pedlarinn.com . Did the owners have a problem having it forever labeled haunted by a movie? No, they were excited to have us back. They were very supportive of the film and we did our best to show the pedlar in the best light possible. I highly recommend people spend some time there. Especially if you are a fan of the film...It would be a really unique experience to be able to basically "stay in the movie."
Did you do any paranormal research before starting the film? Are you a believer in the paranormal? I am a skeptic...But staying at the Pedlar is as close as I have ever come to believing. I'm the kind of person that needs to see a ghost to believe in ghosts. So far I've only seen weird little things like doors opening and closing and lights turning on and off...I don't immediately associate that with ghosts.
The film has excellent dialogue, something that has been noted by many of the reviewers that have seen it. Is there a secret to writing such great banter? I don't know. I just write the way I hear people talk. The overwhelming positive response for the dialog has been great. This is my most dialog heavy movie, so it's nice that people seem to dig it. In fairness, the actors do a lot of the work.
The cast really shines in this movie and the performances are surprisingly good for such a small budget feature. How did you sell them on it -- especially Kelly McGillis who is such a veteran performer. I think 85% of directing is casting. I work really hard not only trying to find the most talented people for the roles, but to assemble a group of people who will get along with each other in real life. If everyone likes the material, and each other, it goes pretty smooth and people get to collaborate better than usual. We had a great group on this film. I was spoiled.
How much was Kelly McGillis' character based on Shirley McClaine? She even looked like McClaine in the role. It wasn't really based on her, but Kelly did bring her up when we were talking about research for the character etc.
It was refreshing to see zero CGI in this film. Did you have a tough time selling your investors on making a haunted hosue story that was totally unlike Insidious? We made this before "Insidious" so that didn't factor in. I think the investors got what we were doing and that made it a great collaboration. We were all just trying to make a good movie. As for CGI, it wasn't the kind of film that really called for lots of bells and whistles.
You apparently have a science fiction movie you are working on. Or at least that's what you mentioned March of last year. can you tell me about it? It's called "The Side Effect" and it's about a woman doing pharmaceutical testing in space...And things start to go wrong.
You recently left a Lionsgate haunted house film, apparently over creative differences, and apparently had a bad experience directing 'Cabin Fever 2'. Are you now restricting yourself to films over which you have complete creative control? It's not about complete creative control. It's just about everyone being on the same page with what you're making. I have a particular style...For better or worse, my movies are going to always be a variation of that style. So I just want to work with people who are cool with that.